Startups or MNCs: The two ends of the spectrum

Interestingly enough, when I first joined Accenture as a Business Analyst Intern, I felt the same way when I went to my first internship with Wantedly. The pressure, nervousness, and doubts I have about my ability to succeed were still present.

Wantedly provided me with the opportunity to learn about the startup landscape in Singapore. Accenture, on the other hand, offered me a glimpse into the operations of a multinational corporation. It was an eye-opening experience to be exposed to two completely different business models during these two internships.

If you didn't know, Accenture is a well-established IT consulting firm that offers a wide range of services in strategy, consulting, digital, technology, and operations. Wantedly is a startup technology company that provides a social recruiting and employer branding platform.

With two varied internship experiences, you might be wondering what are the differences between interning in a startup and a multinational corporation and where you should go for your first internship? Here are my top three insights:

#1: The culture working in a startup vs MNC

Start-ups often offers a fast-paced, dynamic work environment with the opportunity for hands-on experience and the chance to make a significant impact. On the other hand, working in an MNC may offer more stability, resources, and opportunities for professional development and mentorship from experienced colleagues. It's crucial to weight the benefits and drawbacks of each and choose the one that aligns best with your career aspirations and work-life balance needs.

Working in an MNC often provides a stable work environment with a clear hierarchy, well-defined roles, and opportunities for career advancement. This can give employees a sense of security and the chance to learn from experienced leaders and colleagues in different departments. Additionally, large corporations often offer a range of benefits and resources, such as professional development opportunities, to support employee growth and development.

While working in a start-up environment provides opportunities for both personal and professional growth. By taking on more responsibilities, your contributions will directly impact the company's success and develop new skills. Thus, start-ups' fast-paced and dynamic nature can be challenging but lead to a more fulfilling work experience.

#2: Who are you?

As an intern, of course, one of the main reasons we take up internships is to learn and pick up skills relevant to what we plan to pursue in the future. Just know that whichever firm you intern in, your experience will be fruitful.

When deciding between a startup or an MNC, assessing your characteristics and work preferences is important. Consider your work ethic and style, as well as your personality and interests. Do you prefer working independently or as part of a team? Are you comfortable with unpredictability, taking on unexpected tasks, or prefer a structured and predictable work environment?

Additionally, take a look at the company's mission and values. Do they align with your personal beliefs and interests? Trusting your instincts and going with what inspires you can also be valuable. Ultimately, the decision should come down to what will allow you to grow and thrive professionally and where you will feel most fulfilled in your work.

#3: How They Operate

Interning at a startup means you are expected to be more proactive and autonomously work on projects. In contrast, larger corporations usually have more pre-defined work assignments and a structured way to do things.

The startup experience in Wantedly taught me the importance of being cross-functional and having a problem-solving mindset. My learnings were more self-directed, and I was given more autonomy than an MNC. This allowed me to not only wear different hats during a project but pick up new skills beyond my job responsibility with the flexibility to explore different roles in the business.

While an MNC operates on very strict SOPs and an organized discipline, during my time at Accenture, I worked and focused on the specific job role assigned to me, with lesser freedom given to engage in many different projects or take up different hats. With a more organized discipline and structure, there was more clarity in my job responsibilities, which helped manage expectations and enabled better decision-making to provide consistency.

Having the chance to work in both a startup and a multinational corporation would give you diverse experiences and skills that can benefit your future career.

Working in a startup often requires one to be versatile, quick to adapt to change, and to be able to work with limited resources. On the other hand, working in a multinational corporation would expose you to more structured processes and large-scale projects.

Both experiences can be valuable and help you develop essential skills like problem-solving, communication, and teamwork. By having both types of experiences, you'll better understand which work environment is a better fit for you and your career goals. Not only that, you’re stepping out of your comfort, challenging yourself in new environments, and supporting yourself in your personal and professional growth.

Feeling inspired? Take that leap of faith and find the internship of your dreams today!

PS. As this article draws to a close, I would like to thank the two companies that gave me the opportunity to be a part of their team.

#1: Team Wantedly

For the everlasting friendship and a team that always believes in my ability to succeed. Your encouragement and motivation help me to always keep going when things get tough. Thank you for always having faith in my wild ideas during team meetings and giving me different opportunities to try new roles. I will always miss our TGIF check-in sessions and our office lunch dates!

#2: Team Accenture

For the wonderful mentors and colleagues I have met at Accenture. Your support, advice, and belief in me have undoubtedly helped me succeed and reach my full potential. The connections and experiences you have provided me have shaped me and helped me grow professionally and personally. My internship with you was simply great and I will always remember and be grateful for the opportunity that was given to me.

Wantedly, Inc. (Singapore)'s job postings